In the Uttaratantra by Maitreya, it is said that our recognizing our buddha potential is like a man living in poverty discovering that buried beneath his home is a priceless treasure. It is like discovering a jewel buried in the mud. If our buddha potential is like a golden statue wrapped in filthy rags, the golden image can never be tarnished by the rags–it is merely obscured by them. When I was younger and my understanding of Buddhism was relatively poor, the images that came from this text had a profound effect on me. They gave me an intuitive sense of my intrinsic value in a way that I had never felt previously. The influence of religion in my early years had left me with the belief that I was essentially a sinner and that at the root of my being was an innate badness that I had to overcome. It left me fundamentally unable to trust myself because to let go would be to open up my innate badness. When I met my Tibetan teachers and they spoke of my buddha nature, I felt a huge sense of relief. Perhaps I was not so bad after all, and perhaps when I allowed myself to relax a little and open up, I would find my true nature as something whole and wonderful rather than something to be feared and suppressed.
–from The Courage to Feel: Buddhist Practices for Opening to Others by Rob Preece, published by Snow Lion Publications